Union hopes for Pikitup resolution

2011-04-18 14:35

The SA Municipal Workers Union remained hopeful today that the Pikitup strike which has left city dirt bins overflowing would soon be called off.

“If the employer signs its own proposals it tabled in connection with the union’s demands, then the strike action will be called off today and workers will be sent back to work,” said Samwu spokesperson Tahir Sema.

Earlier, the Labour Court dismissed the City of Johannesburg’s attempt at stopping the Pikitup strike, which began on April 7.

However, the parties agreed to meet at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration this afternoon to try and resolve the matter.

Sema said that agreement could be reached today to end the strike.

“The union will announce by tomorrow morning the status of the strike. But as of this moment the strike action is still on.”

About 80% of the 2?000 Samwu members within Pikitup first went on a “go slow” before the strike, causing a severe refuse removal backlog in the city.

During the strike, Pikitup managing director Zami Nkosi, Pikitup board chairperson Phumla Radebe and several other board members resigned.

It appeared to be on the brink of ending last week but a document containing proposals was not signed.

City of Johannesburg spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said the only outstanding issue was people participating in the Expanded Public Works Programme, a government initiative to create jobs by providing temporary work for the unemployed. This is typically in labour-intensive infrastructure development and municipal services.

Sema said that Samwu believed that the programme acted as a labour broker and that they wanted people working on this programme to be employed permanently, not temporarily.

The strike had nothing to do with the May local government elections, he added, saying that their issues had been unresolved since 2009.

The CCMA meeting was decided after the Labour Court ruling.

Tugwana said the city acknowledged the problems being caused by not having garbage removed, but said it was managing to get some areas cleared.

Braamfontein was one example, but Tugwana did not want to give examples of other areas in case the people working there were intimidated or attacked.

He gave examples of two people whom he said had been attacked in connection with the strike.

In the meantime, Ishmael Mkhabela, the current chairperson of Johannesburg Social Housing Company, has been appointed chairperson of the board of Pikitup and other board members have been brought in from different companies.

Lawrence Boya has been appointed acting managing director.

These positions are transitional due to the local government elections and will be valid until September.

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